the Olivet Discourse – Matthew 24 – Introduction

Sunrise over the Mount of Olives

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kills the prophets, and stones them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.  For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the LordMatthew 23:37-39 (KJV).

Frightening!  Instead of paying attention to Christ’s warning, the nation of Israel chose to call a terrible curse down upon themselves and their children. 

Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified . . . Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” Matthew 27:22, 25 (KJV)

Had Israel in that generation accepted Jesus as their King and Messiah, Israel would have become the light to the world, the standard-bearer of God upon the earth leading all nations to righteousness.  Instead, their rejection of Jesus resulted in great tragedy for Judea and for all the world.  God intended Israel to be His light upon the hill, His lamp shining in the darkness calling all nations to His loving bosom, (Matthew 5:14-15).  Throughout their history, the Jews forsook the Lord at every turn until the ultimate betrayal.  In their rebellion, they ignored the prophets and the signs of the times dashing themselves headlong into the “Rock of Ages.” They rejected Jesus Christ, God’s Son, their promised King and Messiah.  It is hard to imagine how foolishly the elders and citizens of Israel called out for Christ’s “blood to be upon them and their children” (Matthew 27:25), plunging Israel into the judgment of dark days which have lasted roughly 2000 years. 

With an unbending love for His people, even as Jesus hung on the cross, He pleaded with God to “forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Israel had rejected God.  Now they had rejected Jesus.  Now, with compassion, God through the Holy Spirit graciously allowed His call to keep going out to the Jews.  Christ’s disciples and Apostles continue proclaiming Jesus their King, the Messiah, while the leaders of Israel and most of the people continued to reject Him.  In Acts 7 the Sanhedrin become so incensed by Stephen’s testimony, they plug their ears, grit their teeth, drag him outside of the city, and stoned him to death as Saul stood by watching in approval.  In their fury, the Sanhedrin commissioned Saul to hunt down those who had come to faith in the Christ.  He and his band of loyalists were authorized to travel from town to town in pursuit of those who had turned to Christ.  Christ’s followers were dragged from their homes and forced to either curse Christ, be imprisoned, or stoned to death.  With this final rebellion, God had had enough.  Israel had first rejected Him, then Christ, and finally the Holy Spirit.  He allowed the days of vengeance (Luke 21:22), “Jacob’s Trouble,” to fall upon the people and the land.  To this day the people of Israel are still paying a heavy price for rejecting their Messiah. 

The Scriptures tell us, “For many are called, but few [are] chosen (Matthew 22:14 KJV).  Saul, chief among the rebellious, while on a mission to persecute Christ’s followers was dramatically plucked out of the rebellion by Jesus Himself and chosen to become His Apostle to the Gentiles.  Paul* set apart for the work of the ministry of the “Gospel of Grace.”

*Paul, Paulus, if derived from the Latin, signifies little, dwarfish: but if from the Hebrew, פלא pala, it signifies extraordinary, wonderful; and this appears to have been the derivation assigned to it by St. Jerome. Adam Clark.

(God has both a sense of humor and a sense of Justice.  God chose the fiercest persecutor of Christ’s followers to be His strongest advocate).  Jesus reveals a Mystery to Paul which was kept secret from before the foundation of the world.  Because Israel rejected their destiny, this is where the preaching of the “Kingdom Gospel” begins to fade out and the “Grace Gospel” begins to go forth.  Israel falls into abeyance and the new dispensation begins (Acts 13).  A new day had begun,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us (believers) in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us (believers) unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6 (KJV)

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (KJV)

“Know ye not that ye (believers) are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16 (KJV)

Today, the pea-sized nation of Israel occupies more space in front-page headline news than any other nation on earth.  In the broader picture, all world history revolves around this tiny nation, its capital city Jerusalem, and the Temple mount.  Truly, unquestionably, Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple mount are the center of the earth. 

 “And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” Zechariah 12:3 (KJV)

The nation of Israel is the lynchpin of history.  In ancient times armies traveling from Africa into Europe and the Middle East, and to and from Asia, passed through Israel.  The Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Meads, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and many less significant powers have all left their marks on this tiny land.  In modern times the Crusaders, Islamists, French, Turks, British, and others have each left their imprint on the land.  All nations should pay attention – Israel always was and still is, “the apple of His eye.”  Mighty changes are coming.  The seas are roaring (peoples), and the mountains (kingdoms/governments) will soon be trembling in expectation of the impending “Day of the Lord.”  God says,

“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.” Joel 3:2 (KJV)

The Mount of Olives is a fitting place for Jesus to deliver this prophetic sermon—it overlooks the Temple Mount, which is in the center of Jerusalem, the center of Israel, the center of the world.  From this vantage point, He gave His disciples the keys for understanding the unfolding of World events.  Even language centers on Israel.  Most of the languages written from left-to-right are to the west of Israel while ones written right to left are to the east (Arabic, Chinese, etc.).

Jesus’ journey to the Mt. of Olives is recorded in Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40.  It begins in Bethpage, between Jerusalem and Bethany.  He triumphantly enters Jerusalem upon an ass’s colt as prophesized in Zechariah 9:9-10 accompanied by a multitude of rejoicing disciples praising and honoring Him.  Some of the Pharisees immediately take offense and command Him to rebuke the “hosanna-crying” crowd.  His reply to them is recorded in Luke 19:40 (KJV), “And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Jesus’ lament to His rejection and the resulting judgment upon His people is recorded in Luke 19:41-44 and is expressed in the cursing of the fig tree—which, like the nation of Israel, had a great showing of leaves but bore no fruit.

“When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44 (NASB).

  • Judaea Capta coinage: Judaea Capta coins were a series of commemorative coins originally issued by the Roman Emperor Vespasian to celebrate the capture of Judaea and the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by his son Titus in 70 during the First Jewish Revolt.
  • Between 132 to 135 A.D., Simon bar Kokhba led a revolt against the Roman Empire, controlling parts of Judea but seemingly not Jerusalem, for three years.  As a result, Hadrian sent Sextus Julius Severus to the region, who brutally crushed the revolt.  Shortly before or after the Bar Kokhaba’s revolt, the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of the Judean province and merged it with Roman Syria to form Syria Palaestina.  Jerusalem was renamed  Aelia Caitolina, which was done in an attempt to remove the relationship of the Jewish people from the region. Wikipedia

What great tribulation to have their entire nation completely laid waste and its children destroyed within the city gates, the survivors carried off into all the nations! What great tribulation Israel has suffered for turning their back on Jehovah their God and rejecting their Messiah and their King—Just as prophesied:

“Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.  9 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” Amos 9:8-9 (KJV)

This is truly the time of “Jacob’s Trouble.”  It is with all these things in mind and the foreknowledge of His impending Crucifixion that Jesus delivers the Olivet Discourse.

Exploring Scripture~because it matters-it really does!

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